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Off the Record (Apr 15, 2015)

THE SANTA ROSA PRESS DEMOCRAT'S account of Friday's hearing stated that "frost fans have been idle for years."  Untrue. The fans were not in place until last year. They are newly introduced. The judge, of course, buys whole the assertion by the industry that it's either destroy the nighttime peace of a thousand of so residents or "millions of dollars in losses." Some Anderson Valley vineyards have not installed frost fans. As one of the non-frost fan growers put it, "We can lose some grapes to frost, but it would be wicked, consecutive frost mornings that would wipe out the whole year's yield. That hasn't happened here."

WHAT'S REALLY, REALLY, REALLY TIRESOME about certain discussions in this county is that the truly painful issues always, without fail, conclude with someone from one of the helping bureaucracies saying, "If you give us more money we can help better."

HOW MANY YEARS has Mendocino County, population 90,000, been among the state's leaders (sic) in per capita child abuse stats? Many. But the studies remain vague. The study that came up Tuesday when the depressing subject was discussed by the Supervisors is out of UC Berkeley. It was apparently pegged to how many children are absorbed into the foster system. (Mendo teens needing foster homes are about the same percentage as the rest of the state, not nearly as many, then, as their non-verbal younger selves. The pre-verbal children of the poor remain a mother lode of funding for the "helping" professions.

WHAT'S ODD about these conversations, during which whole Lake Tahoes of croc tears are shed, is they take place out of the wider context, which should be the obvious fact that our society is imploding. But the talk proceeds on the deluded assumption that $50,000 to the non-privatized sectors of our Mental Health apparatus will somehow begin to beat back child abuse right here in Happy Happy Wine Country.

AND THE ABUSE isn't defined with any precision, but implicit is the assumption is that it's confined to THEM, the Not Nice People. But I saw a prosperous-looking family of four strolling through the farmer's market at San Rafael a couple of Sundays ago when mommy suddenly wrenched the arm of the toddler whose hand she was holding, a boy of about three. The attack on the child, and his arm was jerked hard enough to constitute an attack, seemed unprovoked, other than the boy whining about something, as in "I wanna wanna wanna…" Then, of course, having his arm pulled hard enough to injure him, the child began to cry. Daddy looked embarrassed as an elderly woman said to the mommy, "That's completely unnecessary." Mommy just glared around at all of us startled by an episode of child abuse in the very beating heart of mellow Marin, and walked on, the child wailing. If you're a so-called parent with such loose control of yourself that you attack your kid in a crowd of people, well, that couple's two children are in for a tough childhood. And want to bet nobody who knows that mommy is a child abuser will report her to CPS? But then millions of American children are now growing up in an objectively psycho social context, and, as Andrew Kopkind put it in another context, "The sky is dark with chickens coming home to roost."

IN MENDOCINO COUNTY, as in every other county in the state, child abuse is strictly class warfare — the state with its army of helping pros versus the working poor and the defeated. That Marin woman ought to get a children's protective services look, but she won't because the well-to-do are insulated from the kind of state intrusions the poor are subject to on a regular basis.

THE ABUSE cases I have first hand knowledge of in Mendocino County fall mostly in the neglect category. Dope head parents, on the off chance there are two of them, are too screwed up from drugs and/or alcohol to get the kid fed and his diapers changed regularly. And they scream a lot. And they're like children themselves with, unfortunately, mature reproductive organs. Flat out beatings and sexual assaults aren't all that common, although common enough to make one wonder at the long-term viability of the human race.

BUT HERE THEY COME, the helping professionals, and here come the supervisors listening to presentations slo-baked in false feeling for "the kids" who, of course, are major funding units as children then as adults for major sectors of employed Mendocino County.

THE UPSHOT? More study and come back in 2016 and, count on it, the supervisors will hand over at least $50,000 to help fund a "Family Resource Center."

REPUBLICANS TO MEET IN UKIAH, probably to discuss What To Do About Billery? The Mendocino County Republican Central Committee will meet Saturday, April 18, 2015, 10:00 AM —12:00 Noon at the Henny Penny Restaurant, 697 S.Orchard Ave, Ukiah, CA 95482. For further information contact: Evelyn Hayman, (707) 948-6467 or go to: . Evie Hayman, Chairman, MCRCC

PERSONNEL DEPARTMENT: Long-time Ukiah attorney, Kit Elliot, is going to work for the County Counsel's Office.

MATH DEPARTMENT: San Francisco is a small city of about a million people served by 35,771 employees. Vast Mendocino County is home to a mere 90,000 people served by 1,064 employees. San Francisco, then, employs 36 persons per thousand citizens, Mendocino County 12 per thousand.

A MUCH MORE DEPRESSING stat, unless you pay taxes in San Francisco, is the $4,000 the City of Fort Bragg doled out to Sue Hahn for "facilitating" their city council's "goal-setting retreat."

PRINTED NEATLY on the back of an envelope from Willits containing a renewal check, "You may recall that on a scale of one to ten, I awarded Tom Woodhouse a two. Perhaps that was a bit too generous."

PERHAPS. We'll give Woody the benefit of the doubt and say there may be more to the feeb than meets the critical eye. As an elected newbie on the County board of supervisors, maybe Wood is just nervous. On the other hand, it's already pretty clear that he's a guy who really, really, really needs to be loved, in which case he's mos def at the wrong party.

ADD SODDEN THOUGHTS. On a slow news day recently — Boonville isn't exactly what you'd call one of the world's crossroads — we went deep into the hypotheticals. The question before the house was, If All the Elected Bodies in Mendocino County Played Electoral Musical Chairs Once a Month, Would Anybody Know the Diff? Or Notice? Or Care if They Did Notice?

FLESHED OUT, the County School Board would become the County Board of Supervisors, The Willits City Council would become the MCOG board, while the Fort Bragg City Council drove to Boonville to become the Anderson Valley Health Center's board of directors, as KZYX's trustees traded places with the County's Mental Health Advisory Board. And so on.

UNANIMOUSLY, we agreed that not only would policy decisions be the same regardless of context, no one would notice any change, and on the off chance someone did notice, they wouldn't care.

REGARDING the Ortner Management Group, a private company based in Yuba City, and proud owners of half Mendocino County's public mental health budget, the point we never tire in making, is that the "program" proposed for the Old Coast Hotel in the center of Fort Bragg will serve carefully selected persons who don't present any special difficulties because they've stopped presenting special difficulties. But they are good as gold reimbursable funding units paid for in full and then some by the federal and state governments, hence their attractiveness to the Ortner business. The more difficult mentally ill people, who also tend overwhelmingly to be addicted to methamphetamine, are ignored by Ortner and ignored, mostly, by what remains of the County-funded Mental Health Department. These people used to be housed in a state hospital system. Of course that was before America lost its way, circa 1967. Now, as we confirm daily with our own eyes, the mentally ill are pretty much free range, the default responsibility of law enforcement. The non-fundable insane, the insane that vultures like Ortner can't get government money for, wind up for short stays in the County Jail. The overall problem of homelessness and mental illness, often one in the same, is not being addressed in Mendocino County although Ortner is getting $7-8 million a year for allegedly doing something about it, his cynical plans for central Fort Bragg notwithstanding.


The (above) piece regarding Ortner hit a home run. This is what so many in and out of the community of Fort Bragg have been saying for a long time only to fall on deaf ears. When I contacted Dan Hamburg and McCowen about their statement of approval for the Old Coast Hotel project McCowen didn’t bother to answer and Hamburg answered by either quoting or copying and pasting his answer directly from the Hospitality Center’s website. I asked for his opinion on help not being there for those who need it, I didn’t ask for a copy and paste answer. Why does no one seem to want to discuss this? That includes the Fort Bragg City Council. As Scott Deitz said, “I voted for it and it’s done.” Thank you to this paper (AVA) for allowing both sides to be heard, unlike our local paper that is so one sided they could downsize their paper even more and still have more room than they know what to do with. This issue isn’t about not wanting to help those in need, it’s about wanting to make sure ALL those in need get that help. Our county is paying for a program that pretty much says, “If we can’t be reimbursed for services you receive you aren’t going to get those services.” Instead you go over to Ukiah for a free night’s lodging then released back on the street with no help and no hope. Ortner should be responsible for these people as well, after all aren’t they being paid to do just that? Of course that would take from the money going into the pocket of OMG. That is my opinion.


Adam Kufeld, Comptche, California. Public Expression, Board of Supervisors Meeting, April 7, 2015: “My property is about half way between Ukiah and Mendocino. In the news last night NBC had a report on California which said that we face probably the most dangerous fire season in the history of California. This was last night. They used the word inferno. We are concerned now that Calfire by their own admission is allowing a practice that is adding fuel to the fire. They're talking about reducing fuel loads which we all agree is important and we also need to deal with the fuel loads around our homes. But right now there are hundreds of thousands of dead trees surrounding our neighborhoods. MRC is planning to harvest over at least 1200 acres in our area alone. In the second review team meeting we had Mr. Minor of Calfire, when asked directly whether the practices of the leading industry in the area were leading to an increase or decrease in the fire danger, he admitted that it would increase the fire danger for a least a year or two. The other gentleman from Calfire whom I respect, at the same time said it will make a difference in the next few years. We are really concerned not about what happens in eight years when the trees are deteriorating. What happens now, this season, when the trees that already have been killed last year and that will be killed this year will be left standing and become fuel for the fire that could go from just a fire which is bad enough to an inferno? All of us in this meeting know that if that happens this season we are going to have to look at this whole area and see how many hundreds of thousands of dead trees we are surrounded with. Anybody who has seen a tanoak go up in flames knows that it's like a Roman candle because they are full of oil. I was up in a plane not long ago flying over taking photographs. It is mind-boggling how many dead trees there are. All you have to do is imagine if a fire starts and a wind starts, Mendocino County will go up. The discussion about clearing brush around our homes will be moot. We will be dealing with much bigger issues. If Calfire continues to approve THPs without a provision that MRC or whoever is logging doesn't take those trees out, we will continue to face a greater and greater danger every year and sooner or later it's going to fall on everyone's shoulders who has chosen to look the other way because big corporations like MRC are too difficult, too much work, too bureaucratic, too expensive or whatever it is. We have to start dealing with it now because we are facing an entirely different kind of situation than we ever have.”

FRIENDS OF THE FORT BRAGG LIBRARY are holding their book sale at their regular book sale venue in Noyo Harbor. They are open on weekends, every Friday, Saturday, Sunday, 11-3pm. The little store is located at the Sportsman’s Dock at the south end of the parking lot it shares with End of the World Rowing Club, the last building before the Noyo River bridge (look left). Books are priced $3 for hardcovers, $2 for paperbacks. Plus some specially priced books and a $1 paperback shelf. All sales benefit the library.

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